How Bad UX Killed Jenny(medium.com)

6 years ago from Jonathan Shariat, Designer @ Google | Author @ O'Reilly | Podcaster @ DesignReview

  • Kevin OhlinKevin Ohlin, 6 years ago (edited 6 years ago )

    Bad UX permeates even the most basic functions that nurses perform every day. Here's a piece of anecdotal evidence:

    Just last week I was talking to two RN's, from two different large and busy hospitals, who both shared very similar experiences of nearly losing a patient in the same way.

    The problem was, when a patient was sitting up, and suddenly they needed CPR (for two different reasons), neither of them could find the button to flatten the bed out quickly, both had to resort to the slow and steady motorized lowering of the bed whilst their patients were suffocating. This button is rarely needed, but in those moments, seconds spent missing the right button and waiting for the wrong button can mean the difference between life and death.

    It's the difference between this potentially bad interface and this slightly better interface.

    It's a very simple example of potentially dangerous UX, but the idea is the same. When lives are on the line, somebody should be caring more about the end user (doctors, nurses, pilots, refinery operators) and making their job easier.

    1 point
    • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, 6 years ago

      Wow thanks for sharing. You're right, it really does permeate everything, and is especially bad in life threatening situations. It also can deny justice. If someone wants to access help from the government and can't, then that service is useless. If good citizens can't figure out how to pay fines or go through the giant hassle of rebutting them, then is there really justice provided?

      It makes me so sad. I wish I could do something directly. What else can we do?

      1 point
      • Kevin OhlinKevin Ohlin, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

        I think articles like yours here are a good start. As far as the next steps go? I'm not entirely sure. But I think the solution isn't a simple one, and will involve a lot of people with a lot of valuable insight that needs to be shared.

        Money, power, politics, and competing goals often prevent the individuals creating these systems from having the input or feedback to get it right. (See Mitch Malone's comment, for example)

        My thoughts:

        If empathy and compassion were as important as profits and margins, these kinds of problems would be much fewer and farther between.

        But empathy doesn't come easily. It can't be taught in one semester of a college class for a few units of credit. Compassion costs more than a few thousand dollars of college tuition. It costs emotion, sometimes heartbreak, sometimes joy. It takes up your thoughts and feelings for more than just 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

        People genuinely caring about each other is the solution at it's very heart, but that is no easy task.

        0 points
        • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, almost 6 years ago

          I somewhat agree. I think empathy can align with profits. I think once startup systems come into the market with better UX, patients will flock to them. There will be no stopping them.

          1 point
          • Tim GauthierTim Gauthier, almost 6 years ago

            the thing is patients don't have a choice, and they especially are not in a situation to flock to those systems when they are in need of medical care. I think the solution is to enter into markets overseas, to prove the quality, then into the teaching systems and schools, and then into new hospitals and training hospitals. It has to be designed to be slow so that you don't over burden the already overburdened health workers, and it has to be similar to systems they already know, but still better. It will take thousands of layers of iterations to slowly pare the system down to the needs of the medical staff, but it can work.

            1 point
      • Patrick SmithPatrick Smith, almost 6 years ago

        I guess online guides or templates/examples on how to best present information specifically for government websites could be created? Like a best practices or even an open source site people can use to repurpose into their own.

        The Creative Commons license has taken off, and I’ve seen it used by the Australian government online, so possibly a standard website user experience that people in government come to know about could take off too.

        1 point